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Training is an investment with return in temporary workers: A social exchange perspective

Maria José Chambel (Faculty of Psychology and Education, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal)
Filipa Sobral (Faculty of Psychology and Education, Lisbon University Institute, Lisbon, Portugal)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 24 May 2011




The purpose of this paper is to analyse whether a social exchange relationship between temporary workers and organizations is possible. The authors aim to consider whether, when training is perceived by an employee as an organizational practice that promotes his or her employability, this entails a social exchange relationship.


Surveys from 240 call centre workers were analyzed using correlation and multiple regression to explore relationships between training to promote employability, perceived organizational support (POS) and affective commitment.


The data support the idea that social exchange theories are useful frameworks in explaining temporary workers' affective commitment towards organisations. Organisational investment in training was positively related to the affective commitment of these temporary workers. However, employees attributed greater importance to the fact that training increased their employability than to the number of training hours received. The relationship between this human resource management practice and affective commitment partly occurred through the perceived organisational support. Such perception partially mediates the relationship between training as a promoter of employability and this positive attitude.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited due to sample nature and the lack of longitudinal design. It does not provide implications for other types of commitment that may be relevant for temporary workers (continuance commitment, for example).

Practical implications

An important implication from this research is that employers should not assume that training is an investment without return from temporary workers. Developmental opportunities, while important to all employees, did make temporary workers more committed to organizations.


The paper is the first, to the authors' knowledge, to assess training as promoting employability with a specific measure. While the results are simple, they refute many stereotypes of temporary workers and add an important perspective to the human resource management literature.



José Chambel, M. and Sobral, F. (2011), "Training is an investment with return in temporary workers: A social exchange perspective", Career Development International, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 161-177.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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